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Path

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I checked the map then hobbled to the first aid station at the amusement park in search of a Band-Aid for my blistered feet. Their path took me past an ice cream shop, souvenir store, caricature portrait gallery and a restaurant. On my way back I found that a shortcut would have saved my soles and possibly my pocketbook.

Robert Frost may like the road less traveled, but Ms. Jones usually takes the path of least resistance. Like my meandering trail around the park, she usually goes where you direct her. Take a fresh look at Ms. Jones’ path through your store.

Before she even opens the door she’s already perused your window displays that set the tone for her entire visit. Are your windows fresh? Clean? Well lit? Seasonal?

Once inside, Ms. Jones stops, takes off her sunglasses, adjusts her purse, and looks around. Do you have something pretty for her to see? What does it smell like? Are there welcoming signs or lurking salespeople?

The first item on Ms. Jones’ right is where she’ll form her impression of your pricing. What’s there right now? Does it represent your high end or your low end price range? Ideally, this should be an attractive, affordable display.

There’s a huge likelihood Ms. Jones is going to turn right with she walks in the door. (It might be fun to take a little survey in your store: How many customers turn right at each intersection?) What’s on your right wall? This is your most valuable real estate, where Ms. Jones will spend most of her time. Beyond this area, often called the “strike zone,” she’ll follow your carpeted path past all the add-on merchandise so carefully chosen at the last market until she arrives at your best-selling, high-demand categories which you’ve inconveniently located in the in the back of the store. She finally arrives at the wrap desk, also surrounded by impulse items, strategically placed on the left side of the store where you can see the entire sales floor.

With each new shipment or in-stock sale the path can be shifted a little bit this way or nudged that way… until one day you look up and realize that your original brilliant design is a tangled web of obstacles and obstructions. There’s an art and a science to creating a drive-aisle in your store that drives Ms. Jones to your desired destination.

Can she get from here to there?

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